Top 5 Travel Experiences from 2012
2012 was a travel bonanza! I never would have guessed, ringing in the New Year in Prague, that I would see and experience so much throughout 2012.
Travel in 2012 ran the gamut of experiences from luxurious hotel stays in the Mayan Riviera at the Fairmont Mayakoba Resort and Spa to basic accommodations in the back of cathedrals in Viana and ancient pilgrim hostels (Ermita de San Nicolas) with no electricity on the Camino de Santiago. Each were special in their own right.
Most of my time was spent in Spain with 2 very different trips – 2 weeks cycling in Mallorca in the spring and 6 weeks walking across the Camino Frances across the north.
With so much to choose from, it was really hard to narrow it down to my favourite 5 experiences!
1. January 2012 – It was in Prague that I was first introduced to the concept of Love Locks. I adored the symbolism behind locking your lock and throwing away the key…a pledge to the enduring love of the couple behind the lock. I have created a mini-mission for myself to find love locks around the world. While they can be controversial (see: Love Locks Rome: Do we have to say good-bye), lovers around the world are embracing the notion and the love locks are continuing to pop up everywhere! I found a fledgling love lock wall in Dubrovnik and hope to hear stories of more stunning locations. I hope to lock my own love lock in 2013.
2. July 2012 – The New England Colour Run. One thing I love about blogging is learning about great activities out there that I may never have heard of otherwise! While not a runner, I was reading a post about a few different runs out there and the colour run caught my eye! How could it not with a tag line of the happiest 5K on the planet!
3. August 2012 – Decompressing in Croatia. August was a huge month as it marked the beginning of my transition zone. I went from working full time to full time nomad and 2 weeks in Croatia marked the beginning. I remember sitting on the pier by the Adriatic Sea and becoming so relaxed that an entire hour passed without me thinking about anything. I just looked out at the water, sparkling like crystal in the sunlight, and knew that I had made the right choice. I had been running so hard up to this point that I had forgotten how to relax. Croatia was the perfect place to relax and decompress before heading out to walk the Camino de Santiago, which was, of course, the main objective of my 3 months in Europe.
4. September-October 2012 – Walking the Camino de Santiago. It had been a dream of mine for a number of years. The Camino proved to be the most difficult and the most rewarding experience at the same time. My body suffered immense hardships which was hard on my ego. I thought myself relatively fit as a cyclist who thought nothing of cycling the mountains of Mallorca (Sa Calobra, Serra de Tramuntana to name a few!), yet I found myself crippled by blisters early on the walk. My ankle, hip and knee protested over the tough terrain. With unplanned stops, it meant that my 40 day plan spread to 43. Along the way, I met some amazing people whose kindness was incredible and whose friendships got me through the tough times. I was inspired by their stories of why they chose to walk the Camino and thrilled to share the highs and lows along the trail. The beauty of the region was beyond my expectations…my favourite being Galicia. It was soothing for the soul to walk through the eucalyptus forests and look out over the valleys. I cherished all of the 43 days, even when I thought I couldn’t take another step. The wave of emotions that came over me as I arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago defies words (walking to Santiago). The life lessons learned along the way were incredible and I hope to do it again in 10 years. I wonder how different the experience will be knowing more of what I would be in for!
5. November 2012 – Such a contrast to the hardships of the Camino, in November I had the chance to join a friend and a wonderful group of women on a week in Barbados. The highlight of the week – a day spent on a catamaran, swimming with the sea turtles. It was a magical day that will be hard to repeat. Really, the entire week was so special….while I didn’t know most of the girls before the trip, I made some great friends and hope to travel with them again. We had a gorgeous villa rather than hotel rooms, and kicked back on the porch daily, chased monkeys in the forest and laughed til we cried! Needless to say, girls week in the Caribbean rocks!
I have to admit – narrowing it down to 5 was nearly impossible. I can’t help but add 2 honourable mentions:
- March/April 2012 – Introducing friends to Mallorca. This year I returned to Mallorca with a group of friends. While I have been traveling and cycling here for years, it was amazing to relive the excitement and amazement of the first time I traveled to the island. We were a group of 10 and 8 of the group had never been here before. It was great to share what I knew and experience it all over again with fresh eyes. We stayed in villas and cooked most nights after riding every corner of Mallorca. The riding was nothing short of spectacular, and sharing it with friends made it even better!
- October 2012 – a night in the kitchen with San Sebastian Foods. What a night. I love to cook and try new foods and what better than a night learning about Basque cuisine in the heart of Basque country! The group de-inked squid and learned tricks and tips from professional chefs. When it was all said and done, we sat down to an amazing dinner and lived it up! The experience was top notch and I would gladly go do it again! Even better – I came home and wowed the home crowd with my new recipes!
Travel Destination Bucket List got a couple notable mentions on the web:
- East Coast Car Rentals listed Travel Destination Bucket List as one of the 5 Travel Blogs to watch in 2013.
- 101 Holidays Blog listed Turtle Cruise with Silver Moon as one of the bets travel blog posts in December.
2012 has been an exceptional year. I look forward to whatever 2013 brings to me…hope you have enjoyed the ride!